If You Think ‘The Last of Us’ Series ‘Ruined’ Bill, You’re Wrong
It was only a matter of time before the video game “purists” were angry about episode 3 of HBO’s The Last of Us, titled “Long Long Time”—mainly for one specific reason: Bill’s character is pretty different from the source material. The show has, for the most part, been pretty faithful to the game with just some slight changes to the characters that we’ve come to know and love, but with Nick Offerman’s take on Bill, we get a different arc for the man who created his own town to stay safe after Outbreak Day.
In the post-apocalyptic world of The Last of Us, Bill and Frank are two people who live away from government control and who Joel and Tess know in passing. Focusing on their show connections, Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett) live in the surrounding Boston area in a place that Bill has made his own. The town they live in comes from Bill’s own survival skills and Frank happening to fall into one of Bill’s traps. The two fall in love, and their story goes on from there. In the game, it is more about how Bill has things that Joel needs, and their interactions are a lot less personal than they are in the show, but Bill is there to get you what you need (a car battery) and that’s about it. Frank’s barely there at all. So, their show personas are very different.
And the changes are, in my opinion, for the better. While the video game does give us many side characters to care about, they are just briefly in protagonists Joel Miller and Ellie Williams’ story. They’re not important enough to come back to, and so we, as game players, are left with unanswered questions. With the TV series, though, they have the unique opportunity to change that, and they do, by giving Bill an arc and a history that we never got to see in the game.
But some video game fans online starting to post about how they think the series “ruined” Bill as a character, and I frankly think that’s wrong.
For the most part, the game version is simply a sad man who was left alone and heartbroken. He’s angry at the world, doesn’t want to help, and is mean. The show still has those elements to Bill, but he’s happy and we get to actually see a love story unfold. We’re not just constantly bombarded by the turmoil of the apocalypse.
So sure, Bill’s not there to meet Ellie like in the game, but we get to actually see how much Frank means to him and their relationship, instead.
Bill’s love is important, too
Sure, Bill is already gone in the TV series’ present, meaning that we’re not going to see him with Ellie. But instead, we get to see him happy and in love. Frankly, I think that’s more important. Sure, we could have had a brief moment of Joel and Ellie with Bill and Frank before continuing their same story, but I think the way it worked out works for all of the characters involved.
It would have been easy to adapt this part of The Last of Us as the game was—just a couple broken up and upset, with Frank dead and Bill left alone. But instead, the series gifted us with “Long Long Time” and that feels special. This episode is one that really highlights an aspect of an “apocalypse” story we rarely get to explore. It’s a little bit of love and hope in a destroyed world.
A character like Bill isn’t the type to open his heart or his home to anyone, but the show gives us a look into how Frank helped Bill—how the two survived because of each other, and how they made the choice to end their time together. It was romantic, sweet, and a necessary change to make Frank into a character we cared about, but also to give Bill something to him other than being a grumpy old man.
(featured image: HBO)
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